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Singapore commits to WTO's trade facilitation agreement

The Republic will implement all the provisions of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade Facilitation once it comes into force, which is expected to be by July 31, 2015, says the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

SINGAPORE: The Republic on Wednesday (June 11) notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it will implement all the operational provisions of the latter's Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF).

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in the statement that Singapore joins a number of other developing country WTO members such as South Korea, Hong Kong (China), and Mexico in notifying WTO of its commitment to the ATF.

Some examples of the ATF provisions include:

• Ensuring the publication and availability of customs information
• Issuing traders with advance rulings on their goods
• Providing traders with appeal and review procedures
• Disciplining fees and charges for importation and exportation
• Ensuring procedures for the release and clearance of goods
• Disciplining formalities on importation, exportation and transit

"Transparent and efficient customs procedures help support business supply chains, attract foreign investment and boost domestic development," the MTI said.

The ATF aims to reduce red-tape in cross-border trade by simplifying the customs and border procedures of WTO countries. When implemented, businesses can expect to see trade costs decrease by 10 to 15 per cent based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates, the ministry noted.

The ATF will become active after at least two-thirds of WTO members have ratified the agreement, which is expected to be by July 31, 2015, it added.

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